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Last Night's Sky

Book ReviewsIt's here, and it's official.....this will be the last ever issue of Night Sky magazine. With the first issue from May/June 2004, Night Sky gave experienced amateur astronomers lots of new ideas for easier ways to help explain myriad things in the night sky to anyone just entering this hobby we love so much. I know of a few people who actually started subscriptions to Night Sky, our own AOAS founding member Dale Hall among them. Even I was quickly taken in by the way this new astronomy magazine did its job, getting the rawest of novices outside to see things never seen before.

Yet, the subscriptions for Night Sky never really did catch on. As a letter inside the front pages of this last issue announces, "ultimately we couldn't attract nearly enough [beginning astronomer] like-minded people to sustain the effort profitably. I'm sorry to tell you that this issue of Night Sky will be the last." Kelly Beatty, Editor.

I hate to see it go so soon, but I understand why they're doing it. You can't keep pouring more and more money into any effort that never reaches a level of at least breaking even. Now all we have are our back-issues to help us with invaluable ways to explain the abstract, the mundane, and the sublime, to all our new recruits to astronomy. We MUST hold on to these past issues for that very reason. Night Sky will live on, even if its as dead as a door nail.
The final issue of Night Sky magazine. In only three short years the magazine was becoming a welcome aid to many newbie amateur astronomers. But low subscription levels were slowly doing it in. Now we'll make sure that we keep a valuable resource available to our members by creating as many complete sets of every issue that we possibly can.

I heard it through the Night Sky Network with an email about 3 months ago. Night Sky was closing up shop and doomed to fade away like a dimming supernova. I had become a real fan and I eagerly awaited the next issue. As members of the Night Sky Network, we were part of a campaign to help put Night Sky into the hands of as many visiting individuals as we could whenever we had an observing event, school visit, or a club meeting. They allowed us up to 40 issues each printing for free to give away at those opportunities, and I'll really miss that, too. I made sure that I started keeping one copy of every issue to start a collection that we'd be able to refer to for as long as the paper held together. That way, I reasoned, we'd always have those great tips found in the magazine to be made available to anyone that I thought might benefit from them. Now that its finally official, I want to ask everyone reading this to do one of two things...1) send or bring me all the past issues of Night Sky magazine as you have, or, 2) donate the issues you have to your nearest, or favorite astronomy club in your area. Why, you ask? Well, I'd at least hope that everyone would recognize how the past issues are able to instruct and inspire newcomers to our hobby in learning so much from such a great resource.

What I want to do for our AOAS library is to make up as many complete sets of the magazine as I can assemble, put these sets in individual magazine cases, and make them available to every paid member of AOAS to use whenever they ask for them. In order to accomplish this, I want to ask EVERYONE who has back issues of Night Sky magazine to find a way to get them to me. You can bring them to me at our next observing event (Feb 16th at Hackett), club meeting (set for March 2nd at UAFS MS-UC room 211 at 7pm) or at any other function or outing where you might find me. If you want to send them via snail-mail, it's a little more expensive than I'd want to spend just to donate some magazines to us, but that's your choice.

Please consider donating your back issues of Night Sky to us so we can assemble several sets of every copy ever published. I know you might be missing an issue, or maybe several issues, but if everyone were to do this, we might be able to create 4 or 5, maybe even more complete sets of every issue. I may be the only one who thinks this is an idea worth doing, (I HOPE I'm not alone in this, however) but if only a couple of people use this as a resource in the next few years, it will have been worth the effort as far as I'm concerned. Help me make this humble effort possible if you can, and thank you in advnce for doing so. Bob
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The Physics of Star Trek - Book Review

Book ReviewsThe Physics of Star Trek raises some of the most asked questions regarding just what is, and is NOT possible in this real universe that "Star Trek" exists in. Lawrence M. Krauss is a dedicated "Trekkie" while at the same time holding the Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, Professor of Astronomy, and Chairman of the Physics Department at Case Western Reserve University. He chose to write "The Physics of Star Trek" to give those of us who are NOT physicists some idea of what is a possibility for our futures and what might forever remain in the realm of sci-fi.

"The Physics of Star Trek is copyright 1995, and is published by Basic Books, a Division of HarperCollins Publishers.
"But I canna change the laws of physics, Captain." Scotty has uttered these words on innumerable occasions on the original Star Trek series, yet, when the need called for it, the writers for ST seemed to hold the power of God Almighty as they gingerly created a plethora of "outs" for the original, and all the spinoff Star Trek series. Personally, I used to wonder just how such things could be possible, like the transporter, or "warp speed", or time travel? This was exactly what I had in mind when I bought this copy of the book, to learn for myself just what was real and what wasn't.

James Doohan a.k.a. Lt Cdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott Mar. 3, 1920 - July 20, 2005
Without a doubt, I was disappointed by some of the things I learned from the book, but at the same time, I was enthralled by Krauss' excellent writing and his almost boyish inquisitiveness about most of the same things that fascinated me. He truly is a well-versed Trekkie aficionado, and enjoys sci-fi as much as the next guy. The book is absolutely a must read, at least in my book. HA! (sorry)

Well, what about dilithium crystals, or the holodeck, and aren't matter-antimatter engines the next big thing from Detroit? Isn't GM working on that? Its all in here, and much more. One of the things that caught my eye (through my ears) was how much science and astronomy was always included in the Star Trek programs. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the Enterprise visiting one or another star system which was taken from the star charts that I use to track down my deep-sky quarry. Did you know that the rock-like Sheliak beings are actually found around a planet in one of the southerly pair of parallelogram stars in Lyra?

I love Star Trek, and I always have. I could sit and watch nothing but reruns of Star Trek episodes for days and days without seeing anything else and not get bored. On a lot of episodes, I can almost quote the dialogue word-for-word. But I enjoyed immensely this work by Krauss that got me to thinking a little more literally about the Physics of Star Trek. I highly recommend it!

P.S.I offered up the quote from "Scotty" at the beginning of this review because I had seen it used in the book, but I also wanted to dedicate this review to the memory of James Doohan, who passed away last summer. "Beam me up, Scotty!"
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The Backyard Astronomer's Guide - Answers Galore

Book ReviewsThe Backyard Astronomer's Guide - By Terence Dickinson & Alan Dyer - Firefly Books 2002

There are only a very few books that get me excited, that make me want to read every word, and that I would recommend to anyone and everyone.The Backyard Astronomer's Guide is one I'll refer to and recommend often for probably the next 20 years or more.

I usually don't recommend a book as highly as I'm going to recommend this book. If you are an amateur astronomer, of ANY level of experience or expertise, you will find and learn things from this book that you never knew before, and you're also likely to find better explanations, illustrations and/or tables for most of the other things that you have seen before.

Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer are both well known authors and writers, and their collaboration on this book is likely to cause The Backyard Astronomer's Guide to be regarded as a classic for a long time to come. At the turn of almost every page, I have been either knocked out by the imagery or illustrations, or I've marveled at the way the clear and concise, even poetic text, takes me to some deeper level of understanding on so many different subjects. It even gave me an image of our solar system's orientation as it relates to the plane of our Milky Way galaxy that I've never seen represented before. I'd wondered what our orientation was on so many occasions over the last 20 years, and in this book, I finally found it! In the plane of our galaxy, we are about 2/3 of the way out from the center to the outer edge. Our solar system's plane is tilted at about 65 to 70 degrees perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy. That's why we see the Milky Way appear differently in the summer versus winter, and it's also why the direction of the Milky Way runs N-S directly overhead at midnight on the first day of summer versus the E-W direction overhead at midnight on the first day of winter.

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Tycho and Kepler - Book Review - Astronomical History

Book Reviews
Tycho and Kepler -The Unlikely Partnership That Forever Changed Our Understanding Of The Heavens
By Kitty Ferguson
Copyright 2002 Walker & Co. New York

Tycho Brahe ranks among the most noteworthy of all the men in history, right alongside Aristotle, Copernicus and Galileo. This book by Kitty Ferguson delves deep into the life of Tyge Brahe (pronounced "teeguh" - his real name before he Latinized it to Tycho) and his Danish ancestry to tell a personable tale of a man obsessed with the night sky. Tycho's life and times provide the reader with so much information about the preCopernican misconceptions of the universe that one has to wonder where mankind would be today if not for this man and his research.

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